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Alexander Schallenberg replaces Kurz as Austria's new chancellor

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By Josephine Joly with AFP
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Austria's Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg arrives to meet Austria's President at Ballhausplatz in Vienna, on October 10, 2021.
Austria's Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg arrives to meet Austria's President at Ballhausplatz in Vienna, on October 10, 2021.   -   Copyright  ALEX HALADA / AFP
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Alexander Schallenberg has been sworn in as Austria's new chancellor following the resignation of Sebastian Kurz amid claims of corruption.

The former foreign minister was formally appointed by Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna on Monday.

Schallenberg, 52, has been Austria's foreign minister since 2019, but he is a relative political novice.

Speaking on Sunday evening, Van der Bellen said the work of the government would continue following Kurz's resignation.

"This government crisis is over. Tomorrow at noon I'm going to swear in the new Chancellor and a new Foreign Minister. And the work for our country can continue. I thank Sebastian Kurz. With his move, he kept harm away from the office and made an important contribution to the integrity of our institutions being protected," the Austrian president said.

Kurz stepped down on Saturday after prosecutors began investigating him and close team members over claims that government money was used between 2016 and 2018 to ensure positive media coverage.

After heading two governments over the last four years, Kurz said that he wanted to "make space to prevent chaos" and suggested that Schallenberg should take over the spot.

His decision to quit means that the governing coalition between his conservative Austrian People's Party (OVP) and the leftist Greens will continue.

Kurz has denied any wrongdoing, saying that allegations against him were "false". He said he will continue as party leader while he seeks to clear his name.

On Tuesday, the Greens had signalled that they would topple Kurz in a vote of no confidence in parliament if he did not stand down, as the coalition has already been strained several times by other corruption scandals and differences over questions such as refugee policy.

Meanwhile, career diplomat Michael Linhart became Austria’s new foreign minister, according to the APA news agency.